28 April 2012

FALSE IMPRESSIONS, a painting series by Rachel Manley

I would like to inform everyone who reads brightly coloured sunflowers that my friend
Rachel Manley will be hosting an Art Exhibition entitled, "FALSE IMPRESSIONS, a painting series by Rachel Manley" in Washington DC on May 4th 2012.  If you can, do go along and see her beautiful and poignant paintings. 

Rachel has lived in Tunisia almost as long as I have, I admire her proactive attitude towards being an expatriate.  These paintings reflect her personal response and viewpoint to the Jasmine Revolution which commenced in Tunisia following the ousting of the former President Ben Ali on 14th January 2011. 

The following information has been provided courtesy of Rachel Manley and the FALSE IMPRESSIONS: Cultural Outreach Program for the purpose of this blog post.
 "The Cultural Outreach Program (FI:COP) is a non-profit multi-media educational campaign (website, exhibition and book) centered around the FALSE IMPRESSIONS painting series by Rachel Manley."

Join us for the launch in WASHINGTON, DC on May 4th!
NIN9 gallery located within the Hillyer Art Space in Dupont Circle:
OPENING RECEPTION: May 4th, 6-9pm (show will run through May 25th)

NIN9 Gallery at Hillyer Art Space/International Arts & Artists
9 Hillyer Court NW
Washington, DC, 20008
Telephone: 202.338.0680

In November, we will be traveling to
The CARRACK Modern Art in Durham, NC!
OPENING RECEPTION: November 2nd (show will run until November 12th)

The CARRACK Modern Art
111 West Parish Street
Durham, NC 27701

About the Art
FALSE IMPRESSIONS, a painting series by Rachel Manley, provides a fresh perspective on the Jasmine Revolution and Tunisia. Rachel takes her viewers into a world which is not covered by the major news networks like CNN or Al Jazeera. Her work in this series explores ironies in the Tunisian culture and its history. We learn about unusual beliefs and traditions in Tunisia. We visit obscure and unique places like re-purposed cathedrals and even a historic brothel.

Rachel began work on this series about a month before the Jasmine Revolution actually began in January 2011. Her work on the series took on new found depth and importance when President Ben Ali was forced out of power on January 14th due to massive protests. This event would set in motion protests throughout the Arab world.

Learn more about Rachel and her art at:


“As a foreigner living in Tunisia, I have often found irony in my surroundings. A church that wasn’t a church, a wedding that wasn’t a wedding. . . . Then, the revolution hit and suddenly the truth came out on so many things.

I started working on the FALSE IMPRESSIONS series a little over a month before the Jasmine Revolution began in January 2011. Some of the earliest pieces from the series were RED LIZARD and SUBURBIA. Both feature modern landscapes and both carry a message about Tunisia’s history and future—a warning almost. I remember exploring the area of La Goulette one weekend trying to find inspiration, taking notes, photos and so on. There was no talk of revolution at that point. Then, that Wednesday, we were suddenly put under a severe curfew and people were protesting in the streets. By Friday, President Ben Ali was gone—ousted. By Monday, all of his family’s houses and businesses were burned and gutted. Shortly thereafter, I found myself painting two more landscapes—FERTILE LAND and POWERLESS.

My initial interests in doing a series about Tunisia were not political; however, politics has been a difficult topic to avoid over the past year. Pieces like POLICE STATION and SILENCE make direct comments on the power which the government has traditionally held here. In post-revolution Tunisia, the recently discovered overt discussion of politics continues as people try to reclaim their lives and their values. The importance of building a family and a house outweighs many other priorities now more than ever. Weddings have always dominated the Tunisian culture and are literally an everyday occurrence in the spring and summer months with days of festivities and all-night parties that can be heard from miles around. However, routine curfews during the revolution delayed many weddings this year. So, when the wedding season finally did hit it seemed much more intense and celebratory than in the past. The themes of family, children and even the home are represented in several pieces in the series such as NATURAL RESOURCES. This painting is a composed scene of a “wedding” where we see a couple almost idolized as all hopes are placed heavily on their shoulders.

My experience in Tunisia has not been dissimilar to that of other foreigners who have visited here. I came here with certain expectations and many guidebooks in hand. I have lived a privileged lifestyle here as an expat. I don’t rely on the guidebooks or old assumptions any longer but I am no closer to becoming Tunisian than I was eight years ago. I have spent years directly observing Tunisian culture and digesting my observations. Yet, I am corrected everyday. No, I am not Tunisian.
I am an expat living in Tunisia. These are my observations, my false impressions . . . . ”
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